Hadoop Distribution : Cloudera vs Hortonworks – Which One is Better?

Big Data has emerged from being a buzzword to becoming the norm for almost every business encompassing most of the industries. As Big Data has engulfed the industry, leading businesses are looking for easier and efficient ways to analyze and utilize huge amounts of data at their disposal. Of course, Apache Hadoop, the powerful open source software framework, is the savior.

As we know, Hadoop can process large data sets across multiple clusters of computers and it is easy to quickly scale-up from a single server to thousands. By virtue of a flexible and modular architecture of Hadoop allows adding new functionalities that are essential for accomplishing diverse Big Data jobs. With the increasing demand for Hadoop, many companies have taken advantage of Hadoop’s open-ended framework and modified its code to enhance its functionalities suiting to the industry needs.

A number of vendors have come forward to build on Hadoop’s framework and make it enterprise-ready. The vendors have customized the open source code of Hadoop and bundled it together with user-friendly management tools and installers and packaged it with their own proprietary technologies, routine system updates, user training, and technical support. Among these Hadoop distributions, Cloudera hortonworks are the most popular ones.


Cloudera Inc. is one of the oldest and most widely used Hadoop distributions. It was founded in 2008 by the big data connoisseurs from Google, Facebook, Oracle, and Yahoo. In terms of market penetration, Cloudera boasts of the strongest client base among all other distributions.

Cloudera provides both open source distribution, Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop (CDH), and a proprietary Cloudera Management Suite. Additionally, Cloudera also offers proprietary value-added components. The vendor leverages its open-source distribution by offering paid support and services.

The Cloudera Management Suite includes several sought-after features like dashboard management, wizard-based deployment, and a resource management module to simplify capacity and expansion planning. In general, Cloudera is largely open source, containing a few proprietary components, with its open-source CDH distribution running on a Windows server.


Hortonworks is comparatively a new player in the Hadoop distribution market. It was founded as an independent company spun-off from Yahoo in 2011 and maintains the Hadoop infrastructure in-house. Hortonworks is the only commercial vendor that solely distribute complete open source Hadoop without additional proprietary software.

The Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), which is the primary offering of Hortonworks, is built upon Apache Hadoop and is complemented with training and other support services. Because of its open source nature that is free to use, HDP can be integrated faster and easier. This makes it an attractive choice for many enterprises.

Within a short span of time, Hortonworks has emerged as one of the leading vendors of Hadoop, rapidly catching up with Cloudera. The engineers of Hortonworks are also known to be contributing to most of Hadoop’s recent innovations including Yarn.

You can do a deep research about Hortonworks Certification as well.

Hortonworks vs Cloudera - Similarities

Cloudera and Hortonworks: The Similarities

Both Hortonworks and Cloudera are built upon the same core of Apache Hadoop. Therefore, both of these distributions are bound to have more similarities than differences. Let’s take a look at some of the major similarities that hortonworks and Cloudera share:

  • Both offer enterprise-ready Hadoop distributions.
  • The distributions provided by both the vendors ensure security and stability.
  • Both Cloudera and Hortonworks provide paid training and support services to acquaint the professionals who are new to the domain of Big Data and Analytics.
  • As Hadoop distribution providers, both Cloudera hortonworks have established communities that actively participate and help with the problems faced as well as demonstrations needed.
  • Both have a shared-nothing computing framework.
  • Both distributions have master-slave architecture.
  • Both of the vendors support MapReduce and YARN.

Hortonworks vs Cloudera - Differences

Cloudera vs Hortonworks: The Differences

In spite of many similarities and the same core, Cloudera and Hortonworks exhibit several differences. As we know, when it comes to choosing a vendor, differences are the ones that play a deciding role. Let’s take a look at their differentiating aspects:

  • Cloudera and Hortonworks have diametrically opposite product strategies. Cloudera sells commercial software on top of its open source Hadoop distribution while Hortonworks is an open source purist and offers only Apache Foundation certified software.
  • Hortonworks’ business growth strategy focuses on embedding Hadoop into existing data platforms, while Cloudera takes the approach of a traditional software provider that profits from product sales and competes with other commercial software providers.
  • HDP is included as a native component on the windows server. On the other hand, Cloudera CDH is not a native component but can be run on windows server.
  • Hortonworks does not come with any proprietary software, therefore, uses Ambari for management, Stinger for query handling, and Apache Solr for searches of data. However, Cloudera has a proprietary management software Cloudera Manager, Cloudera Search for real-time access of products, and Impala, an SQL query handling interface.
  • Cloudera possesses a commercial license, while Hortonworks holds an open source license.
  • Most importantly, Hortonworks is completely free and Cloudera provides paid services. However, it offers a free trial for 60 days.

Choosing The Apt Hadoop Distribution

Though similar in several ways, both Cloudera and Hortonworks have their own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, while choosing the distribution that is right for your business, it is essential to consider the added value offered by each vendor while balancing cost and risk involved.

Organizations should also weigh the performance, scalability, manageability, reliability, and data access, for both the options, keeping both short and long-term goals in mind. Opting for the right Hadoop distribution also depends on the parameters that your organization emphasizes.

Your organization might be emphasizing on technical support, expanded functionality, and system dependability or need of the hour might be flexibility or rapid impact and overall profitability. Choosing the appropriate vendor depends on all the above factors and of course on the suitability of the distribution to the necessities of your organization.

Both Cloudera and Hortonworks are market leaders in Hadoop distributions. If Cloudera provides sophisticated paid components, Hortonworks is a purist. Both the companies are innovating the world of Hadoop and both are revolutionizing the Big Data space.

Although Cloudera is the oldest player in the market, Hortonworks is rapidly catching up. So, consider all the needs of your organization, measure the pros and cons of each provider and choose your Hadoop distribution wisely.

About Natasha


Natasha Manuel is an information analyst at SpringPeople. In her 7+ years of experience in the edu-tech industry, Natasha has led many corporate learning projects and delivered several high impact training programs. She is passionate about technology and its role in effective learning solutions

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